Comment 59427

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted February 09, 2011 at 07:25:34

I feel your (metaphysical as well as physical) pain.

I have my own Shovellers' Dilemma - will my neighbour have my sidewalk cleared before I can get out and clear it myself? My walk and his, of course. And even if he is slow on the draw, I might lose the race to my father-in-law down the street, who is himself in anoher back-and-forth contest with his next-door neighbour.

It wasn't always like this. But after one person started routinely doing more than he had to, it became easier for other people - well, let me speak directly - for me to allow myself to do more than I had to, to offer help where help was not strictly due, to risk feeling a bit of a putz by shovelling, for example, the walk of the unoccupied house across the street, or by running the shovel along the sidewalk when I walk down to do my in-laws house, even though I don't like some of the people.

The Gordian Knot of the Shoveler's Dilemma can be undone - sometimes - by one person acting not out of self interest but for the commonweal. Out of neighbourliness. Out of, in the old fashioned sense, love. Not always, obviously ... if it always worked, there would be no Dilemma.

So fight the good fight, Adrian. You will not win every battle, but you might just in the end win the war. And even if you don't, it will be a noble defeat and you can go down smugly knowing that you're better than everyone else :)

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